The Raiders avoided a blackout this week, but are hoping that the Jacksonville Jaguars do not–of course that largely depends on the Raiders, and their ability to stop Maurice Jones-Drew (MJD). If the Raiders can replicate their performance from a week ago, they should have no difficulty doing just that.

Though last week’s game wasn’t a complete success–for obvious reasons–it was something of a bright spot on the season, especially their performance in the second half.

Going into last Sunday’s game, the Raiders had been outscored 29-83 in the second half. Though they were again outscored 7-16, the Raiders defense was responsible for only nine of those points–Carson Palmer was to blame for the rest. The normally explosive Falcons offense was held to 106 total yards, eight of which came on the ground.

Though Atlanta has a running game that averages only 3.7 yards-per-carry (YPC), the  performance of a the Raiders’ run defense can’t be understated, especially since the unit had been allowing 4.2 YPC. In that second half, the Raiders’ defense allowed just eight yards on seven carries, as you can see below:

3rd Quarter

  • 1-10-ATL 21 (13:28) M.Turner left end to ATL 18 for -3 yards (M.Shaughnessy)
  • 2-4-ATL 36 (7:54) M.Turner left end to ATL 37 for 1 yard (P.Wheeler).
  • 2-2-OAK 2 (4:19) M.Turner left tackle to OAK 1 for 1 yard (P.Wheeler)
  • 3-1-OAK 1 (3:16) J.Snelling left tackle to OAK 2 for -1 yards (R.McClain).

4th Quarter

  • 1-10-ATL 10 (14:36) M.Turner right tackle to ATL 11 for 1 yard (L.Houston).
  • 1-10-ATL 20 (8:40) M.Turner up the middle to ATL 21 for 1 yard (M.Burris)
  • 1-10-ATL 36 (7:32) (No Huddle) M.Turner left guard to ATL 44 for 8 yards (T.Branch)

That eight yard gain by Turner aside, the Raiders run defense hit it’s stride against Atlanta, which they’ll need to continue this Sunday against the Jaguars.

Run blocking is really the only thing the Jaguars do well. They do it so well that a majority of MJD’s yardage has been uncontested. That is, as you can see, less than half of MJD’s total yardage has come after contact. Note: The following list is comprised of the YPC leaders with 80 attempts or more. 

The yards achieved without contact is represented as %Y. As you can see, MJD’s 54% leads the way. It would seem that a key to the Raiders success will be getting bodies on MJD, which can be difficult as Christopher Hansen points out. Though the Jaguars don’t have a top rushing attack, they do have one of the better offensive lines in the league. PFF ranks the Jaguars as having the 11th in run blocking, and Football Outsiders ranks them as 12th.

Aside from run blocking, the Jaguars are the inferior team. Here’s how they stack up according to PFF’s rankings.

Why They’ll Win

This one is simple: The Raiders are the better team. I don’t feel the need to explicate that anymore, so I won’t.

Why They’ll Lose

As much improvement as the Raiders made last week, they are still the same team, which means they’re prone to inconsistency. Ultimately, this game will likely be won by the team that commits the fewest errors. The Raiders committed 12 penalties  for 110 yards last week (they had committed only 19 penalties for 143 yards). If they do that again, they’ll lose.

What They’re Saying

Jaguars vs. Raiders: Sketching out a Game Plan for Oakland by Christopher Hansen

3TFO: Jaguars @ Raiders, Week 7 by Kevin Grauel

Jaguars vs. Raiders 2012 odds, game preview and more by Alfie Crow

Who We’re Taking

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Oakland Raiders (-4)

Bay Area Sports GuyC’mon Raiders. If you can’t beat Blaine Gabbert at home by 5 or more… BTW, who would be against an MJD for Run DMC trade right now? Wouldn’t that make a ridiculous amount of sense for both sides on the basis of tickets sold alone? Let’s bring the De La Salle legend back. Pick: Raiders

East Bay Sports GuyThe Raiders played their best game of the season last week, which means either two things: That they caught a sleeping Atlanta team off their game or that they’ve improved. I’ll choose the latter. In keeping with that theory, there is no reason to believe the Raiders won’t pummel a team that is statistically worse in almost every category. Pick: Raiders

Bay Area Stats GuyMy model says that this is a toss up, the line favors the Raiders. I think that is pretty crazy. I would put quite a bit of money on the Jaguars in this one. Pick: Jaguars

Ruthless Sports Guy: Is there a matchup on the Week 7 billing less sexy than this one? You know those times when Scott Hanson says “On NFL Redzone we show you every touchdown from every game, so we’ll show you this”? That’s probably going to be the extent of the coverage from this game. Hopefully Greg Knapp will finally figure out how to use Darren McFadden, and if not, maybe Cecil Shorts will make another spectacular catch so those of us who watch NFL Network will get to hear a week’s worth of “CAUGHT BY SHORTS” highlights. I’ll go with the Raiders to be the lesser of two awfuls in Oakland this Sunday. Pick: Raiders

Bay Area Duck Guy: This is the week I pick a Raiders game right. They impressed last week on the road against the Falcons, so in theory Oakland should continue to improve this week at home against an inferior opponent. Pick: Raiders

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